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COVID 19: Denim Industry Offers Financial Support Through Fundraisers and Donations

The denim industry is not slowing down on its efforts to help combat COVID-19.

This week saw heritage brands like Wrangler and Lee step up with production of face masks and hospital gowns, and companies like AG Jeans and Levi’s donate millions to local and global organizations providing support to healthcare workers and communities most vulnerable to the virus.

Following a dip in denim retail sales, Greenwood Mill in Greenwood, S.C., announced it is shifting its jeans production to hospital gowns and non-medical-grade masks. At full capacity, Greenwood Mills can produce an estimated 500,000 masks and 300,000 gowns per week, with flexibility depending on demand.

The cotton and polyester masks are intended for people to wear in public settings, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our company has been weaving fabrics for more than 125 years and has been supported by our community for just as long. Now, when our community is in need, we knew we had to help,” said Jay Self, president and CEO of Greenwood Mills. “We are honored to be able to offer employment options to our sewers and serve as a resource during this public health crisis. If it helps even a little bit on both fronts, we’re happy.”

Gap Inc. announced on Twitter that it is connecting with its vendors to provide assistance to some of the largest hospital networks in California. The company said it is pivoting resources so factory partners can make masks, gowns and scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines.

Men’s label Trinidad3 Jeans is using the launch of its new collection as a platform to support its local community. It will chip in a charitable donation with every pair sold to the Ventura County Rapid Response Fund, a fund set up by the Ventura County Community Foundation to directly give relief to those affected by the outbreak in Southern California. With each pair sold the brand will donate $20 directly to the fund.

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“We weren’t looking to launch [the collection] until later in May, however, we saw an opportunity for us to be able to help our community now, and we knew we had to act,” said Joe Lafko, managing partner. “We have an institutional giveback built into our brand, so it’s a natural choice to support a local fund that is on the ground helping those” in dire need.

The new collection includes a men’s skinny jean and a slim taper jean made with excess stock from Cone. Trinidad3 is also debuting five garment-dyed pima cotton T-shirts.

“I am incredibly proud that we have the chance to not only unveil the latest piece of my dream, but we get to physically help those who need it most with every pair,” said founder Trinidad Garcia III. “Our community has been calling for help, and it’s time we answered the call to service once again.”

New York City-based retailer Knickerbocker has designed a special edition T-shirt ($30 retail) from which all proceeds will go to support a local small business. Every week, the retailer will select a new business to help. “Sometimes, even the greatest city in the world can feel like a small town,” the retail stated on its website. “When hardship hits your community, it is often your neighbors who you can rely on the most.”

Diesel continues to show support. The brand announced it will donate 10 percent of all online purchases to the OTB Foundation throughout the month of April. The Italy-based foundation has covered the installation of air and surface sanitizers at three Italian hospitals and has established a fund to support its employees most affected by the pandemic.

Los Angeles stalwart Fred Segal is urging people to dress up at home with its new Daytime Nightclub challenge on Instagram. To participate, followers can post a photo of themselves wearing their favorite “night out look” at home. For every post with the hashtag #DaytimeNightclub, Fred Segal will donate $5 to Feed America, up to $25,000.

And women’s apparel retailer Maurices pledged to donate $250,000 to multiple rural community hospitals in the U.S. to support healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, as well as hospitals near its Duluth, Minn., headquarters.

“This escalating crisis has transformed the way we think and work,” said George Goldfarb, Maurices president and CEO. “Like other organizations, we are looking for ways we can support our associates, our customers and our communities. Often rural hospitals don’t get the support they need, and by providing them with a monetary donation, they will be able to purchase what they need most in this fight against COVID-19. We have been in touch with many of the hospital administrators who have told us the timing for this donation is perfect.”

Rivet continues to monitor how the denim industry is responding to the pandemic. Read more here.